THE heat is on for dozens of sports fans in south east Northumberland as they get on their marks for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carry the Olympic flame through the county.
Each of the county’s torchbearers, like the rest of the 8,000 picked nationwide, has been chosen because they have an inspirational story to tell.
They will carry the torch through 18 towns and villages in Northumberland on Thursday and Friday, June 14 and 15.
Residents young and old will be joined by people from around the UK and even Europe as they take part in the torch relay ahead of this year’s London Olympics.
Some from the county will get the chance to carry the torch elsewhere in the north east.
Among those is Neil Douglass, 32, of Bedlington, given the job of carrying the torch for 300m in North Shields.
He was nominated by his sister Kaye Scott for the fundraising he did for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia last year.
He said: “It was a bit of a surprise when she said she was nominating me, and then I couldn’t believe I had been picked.
“It’s really exciting and I’m really looking forward to June.”
Cheering him on will be a new addition to his family as he and his wife Michaela are due to become parents in the next few weeks.
“My family will all be there, including my little son, so it’s going to be a really special day.
“I have to have hospital checks every three months to check on my condition, and I’m hoping the one in April will be good news and be another step towards remission, which would make it a very good few months.”
Since being diagnosed, Neil has taken part in various sporting events and, helped by family and friends, has raised just under £10,000 for the charity.
Neil is now organising more events, including a race night in June, to boost that total.
Others taking part in the relay include:
n Bill Ogilvie, 83, and Roly Sanderson, 60, both of Ashington and both through their home town.
n April Murphy 44, and Carl Greaves, 46, both of Cramlington and both through Blyth.
n Rachel Charlton, 16, of Choppington, through Choppington.
n Warneford Kilgour, 43, of Cramlington, through Choppington.
n Alan Hoyle, 28, of Blyth, through Tynemouth.
n Sophie Adamson, 24, of Seaton Delaval, through Tynemouth.
n Jonny Miller, 26, of Cramlington, through Whitley Bay.
Anne Perrin, 56, of Holywell, through Whitley Bay.
n David Lowe, 46, and Stephen Parsons, 25, both of Morpeth and both through their home town.
n James Boyd, 24, of Morpeth, through North Shields.
Neil Bradbury, the executive member responsible for tourism, leisure and culture at Northumberland County Council, said: “This announcement really brings the route to life, and I am delighted that the torch will be coming into contact with so many of our communities.
“The torch relay will be an exciting and memorable spectacle for all our residents.”
Sebastian Coe, chairman of the committee organising the games, added: “The flame symbolises the Olympic spirit, and its journey around the UK will bring the excitement of the games to our streets.
“Now that people know the route the Olympic Flame will be carried along and the torchbearers for their community, they can start planning how they might celebrate and make it Northumberland’s moment to shine.”